Results tagged liqueur from David Lebovitz

La Maison du Whisky

La Maison du Whisky

This weekend, I think I just made my twentieth, and last, visit of the year to La Maison du Whisky. For the life of me, I have no idea what prompted me to go to a liquor store the Saturday before Christmas. Well, actually I do.

La Maison du Whisky

I was preparing to refill one of my empty cocktail aging barrels and the next cocktail on the docket required red (sweet) vermouth. After exhausting the three liquor stores in my neighborhood, who had no idea what I was talking about (although one caviste thanked me for illuminating him, which I thought was odd because I know very little about vermouth), I took a very crowded #96 bus over to the Left Bank to stock up on a few bottles.

La Maison du Whisky

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Spritz

spritz

Cocktail culture has sort of landed in Paris. I like cocktails but for some reason it just doesn’t seem right to drink them here. Perhaps it’s cultural since France is more known for as a country for wine and beer drinking rather than downing Screwdrivers, Cosmopolitans, and straight-up Martinis. A few cocktail places have opened where I’m told they serve decent drinks, and Mojitos have become omnipresent during les happy hours, but if you order a Martini in a bistro you’re almost certain to get a class of red Martini & Rossi with a dinky ice cube idling away on the surface.

And I have memories of trying to explain to a very confused café waiter how to make a martini for some guests who just had to have one before lunch. And even though I warned them away, out came a shot glass with one ice cube and some straight gin poured over it.

Campari

Tip: Not that I’m a cocktail expert, but if the waiter or bartender doesn’t know the kind of drink you’re ordering, I don’t recommend ordering one. Aside from a well-known aversion to icy drinks (I’ve been told they can freeze your stomach…ouch!), in their defense, ordering a cocktail in a French bistro is like going into TGIFridays and asking them to make you Bouillabaisse. Just because they have some fish in the refrigerator—or freezer—doesn’t mean that they’re going to whip you up a decent bowl of the classic fish soup.

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Sidecar Cocktails

sidecar sidecar

For someone who doesn’t drink that much, I sure have a lot of liquor on my liquor shelf. I guess I should rephrase that. For someone who drinks an a lot of wine, but not a lot of liquor, I sure have a lot of liquor on my liquor shelf.

liquors

The French don’t have anything on us Americans when it comes to drinking cocktails, although that seems to be changing a bit. Fruity, sweet drinks won’t likely catch on around here, which I’m happy about, but minty Mojitos are popular, fueled on by their love of a fascination with anything Cuban. And one of my commenters got a big laugh out of me when I was explaining in another post the lack of ice cubes in Paris, and she said, “The only time you get a lot of ice in Paris is when you order a cocktail.”

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The Coopers of Cognac

Cognac bottles

Earlier this week, I woke up in a small town, smelling of something. It wasn’t anything bad. In fact, it was pretty good: sweet, caramel-like, and roasted, with a vague, but lingering aftermath of alcohol following it. It wasn’t something I was used to, but I’d tasted so many Cognacs this week in the town of Cognac, that it was literally wafting out my pores. And I’m not complaining.

Three days in the region is barely enough time to scratch the surface of this well-known brandy, which honestly, I didn’t know all that much about when I was invited to the annual Cognac auction, where bottles worth thousand of euros are bid on by a few lucky (and loaded) individuals.

lifting log splittingwood

But the first thing I learned about Cognac, is that it all starts in the barrels at the tonnellerie, or cooperage, where the barrels are made. As I touched on in my post about fresh shelling beans, and several people left their own thoughts in the comments, we’re often unaware of what actually goes in to producing the food—and beverages, that we feed ourselves.

barrel maker

For example, I had no idea that it takes three years, minimum, just to make each barrel that’s used for aging.

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Liqueur de noix: Green Walnut Liqueur

vanilla ice cream, doused

I recently stayed with some friends who have a house in the Lot, a lesser-visited area of France which is really beautiful. Because it lacks beaches, that’s seems to be the only thing keeping it from being an ideal summer vacation spot for hoards of tourists. Consequently, I was able to score some gorgeous old bistro wine glasses at a local flea market, which would’ve been ten times the price in Paris or Provence. (Actually, in Provence, they would’ve been twenty times the price.)

And speaking of amazing deals, when I spotted a few walnuts trees loaded with green walnuts behind their house—and the huge pool…and the immaculate vegetable garden…and the fabulously-equipped kitchen, they told me to take some, as they won’t be there in the fall, when they’re ready to harvest.

They’ll be gone? Party in the Lot, everyone!!

green walnuts

Near the end of June, specifically the 23 and 24th, is when the walnuts are traditionally harvested in Italy, although in the center of France, the walnuts are usually just right around the middle to the end of July. They’re perfect to use for liqueur-making when the walnut, and a slightly-crackly shell, is starting to form in the center.

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